General Information on Canadian Prisons

Q: What is the difference between provincial corrections (BC Corrections) and federal (Correction Services of Canada)?

A: Provincial institutions supervise sentences of two years and under, federal institutions oversee sentences of longer than two years

Q: How many men and women are in a Canadian prison on a given day?

A: In 2010/2011,on a given day 38,219 adults [1] and 16,279 youth (aged 12 to 17 years) [2] were in custody in Canada (federal and provincial), for a total of 54,498 inmates.

  • 2,818 were in custody in British Columbia’s provincial correctional system. [1]
  • 13,758 were in federal custody. [1]

In total, just over 24,461 adults were admitted to provincial or territorial jails in 2010/2011. [1]

However there were only 10,916 admissions into provincial or territorial custody to serve a sentence. The difference is accounted for by the number of people held in remand while awaiting their trial or sentencing.[3]

Q: Is this number going up?

A: At 140 per 100,000 population, Canada’s 2010/2011 adult incarceration rate was 1% higher than the year before and 5% higher than a decade earlier. Canada’s rate was about one-sixth that of the United States, but higher than that of many European countries of similar social and economic development. [4]

Q3: Is this the same for men and women?

A: In the last ten years, the number of women admitted to federal jurisdiction increased 32.3% from 232 in 1998-99 to 307 in 2007-08. During the same time period, there was an increase of 6.6% in the number of men admitted to federal jurisdiction. As of April 13, 2008, there were 495 women incarcerated in Canada under federal jurisdiction. [5]

Q: What is the average age of offenders in prison?

A: The average age upon admission in 2010-2011 is 33 years of age [CSC]. This is roughly the same for men and women. However, the average age of Aboriginal inmates is lower, 29.

Offender age at admission to federal jurisdiction is increasing. In 2010/2011, 12.1% of the federal incarcerated population is age 50 or over, compared to 8.1% between 2001-2002.[6]

Q: What are the most frequent complaints from people incarcerated in CSC?

A: Health care accounted for 13.5% of complaints followed by conditions of confinement (7.9%), and cell property (6.9%). Together these accounted for 28.3% of all complaints. [7]

Q: How many offenders have mental health issues in CSC?

A:The percentage of individuals committed to federal jurisdiction with a mental health diagnosis at time of admission is increasing.

In 2007-08, 11.1% of individuals committed to federal jurisdiction had a mental health diagnosis at time of admission and 6.1% were receiving outpatient services prior to admission.

In 2007-08, 30.1% of female inmates compared to 14.5% of male offenders had previously been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.

The percentage of federally incarcerated individuals prescribed medication for psychiatric concerns at admission has almost doubled from 11.0% in 1998-99 to 21.3% in 2007-08.

Female inmates are twice as likely as male inmates to have a mental health diagnosis at time of admission. [8]

In BC Corrections, in one seven year study, over 30% of the corrections population had been medically diagnosed with a substance use disorder. An additional 26% were diagnosed with a mental disorder unrelated to substance use. Among those people diagnosed with a substance use disorder, more than three quarters were also diagnosed with a non drug-related mental disorder (concurrent disorders). [9] Importantly, this does not necessarily include alcohol abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome or developmental disabilities which are not often diagnosed.

In BC, an estimated 80% of the female prison population has received a psychiatric diagnosis. [10]

Q: What is the Aboriginal population in federal prison?

A:In 2010/2011, 27% of adults in provincial and territorial custody and 20% of those in federal custody involved Aboriginal people, about seven to eight times higher than the proportion of Aboriginal people (3%) in the adult population as a whole. [11]

The disproportionate number of Aboriginal people in custody was consistent across all provinces and territories and particularly true among female offenders. In 2010/2011, Aboriginal women represent  41% of all incarcerated women while Aboriginal men represent 25% of incarcerated men. [11]

The number of federal Aboriginal inmates is increasing.

Q: What is the death rate in federal prisons?

A:In the ten-year period from 1999-00 to 2008-09, 533 federal offenders and 376 provincial offenders have died while in custody.

During this time period, suicides accounted for 18.6% of federal offender deaths and 38.3% of provincial offender deaths. The suicide rate was approximately 77 per 100,000 for incarcerated federal offenders, and approximately 71 per 100,000 for incarcerated provincial offenders. These rates are significantly higher than Canada’s 2007 rate of 10.2 suicides per 100,000 people.

Between 1999-00 and 2008-09, 5.8% of the federal offender deaths were due to homicide, whereas homicide accounted for 2.4% of provincial offender deaths. The homicide rate for incarcerated federal offenders was approximately 24 per 100,000 and 4 per 100,000 for incarcerated provincial offenders. These rates are significantly higher than the national homicide rate of 1.6 per 100,000 people in 2007.[12]

 

[1] Figures from Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2012001/article/11715/tbl/tbl04-eng.htm [Accessed 11/2012]

[2] Figures from Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2012001/article/11716/tbl/tbl02-eng.htm [accessed 11/2012]

[3] Figures from Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2012001/article/11715/tbl/tbl04-eng.htm [Accessed 11/2012]

[4] Figures from Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2012001/article/11715/tbl/tbl04-eng.htm [Accessed 11/2012]

[5] Information on federal corrections came from a report titled Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview – 2008 and can be accessed on the CSC website at http://www.securitepublique.gc.ca/res/cor/rep/2008-04-ccrso-eng.aspx#b6 [accessed 02/2010]

[6] Information on federal corrections came from a report titled Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview – 2011 and can be accessed on the CSC website at http://www.securitepublique.gc.ca/res/cor/rep/2011-ccrso-eng.aspx#c5 [accessed 11/2012]

[7] Information on federal corrections came from a report titled Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview – 2011 and can be accessed on the CSC website at http://www.securitepublique.gc.ca/res/cor/rep/2011-ccrso-eng.aspx#c5 [accessed 11/2012]

[8] Information on federal corrections came from a report titled Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview – 2008 and can be accessed on the CSC website at http://www.securitepublique.gc.ca/res/cor/rep/2008-04-ccrso-eng.aspx#b6 [accessed 02/2010]

[9] Somers, Julian M, Cartar, L, Russo, J. Corrections, Health and Human Services: Evidence Based Planning and Evaluation. Simon Fraser University Faculty of Health Sciences. 2008.

[10] Somers, Julian M, Cartar, L, Russo, J. Corrections, Health and Human Services: Evidence Based Planning and Evaluation. Simon Fraser University Faculty of Health Sciences. 2008.

[11]Figures from Statistics Canada. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2012001/article/11715/tbl/tbl04-eng.htm [Accessed 11/2012]

[12] Information on federal corrections came from a report titled Corrections and Conditional Release Statistical Overview – 2011 and can be accessed on the CSC website at http://www.securitepublique.gc.ca/res/cor/rep/2011-ccrso-eng.aspx#c5 [accessed 11/2012]